TAM 3054 - The 15th Anniversary

TAM 3054 Memorial Flight

July 17 is arguably the worst day in aviation history in terms of plane crashes. Crashes from the likes of TWA Flight 800, Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, and the subject of today’s post - TAM Flight 3054.

On July 17, 2007, TAM Flight 3054 lost control at the infamous Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, sliding off the runway due to a horrible error by the pilot in the captain’s seat. The aircraft proceeded to fly off the runway at 110 miles per hour, clearing a busy freeway before smashing into a warehouse, ironically for the company TAM Express.

All 187 people on board plus 12 people in the aforementioned warehouse experienced a death too gruesome to describe here, and there was simply no chance at survival for anybody in the crash trajectory; however, 13 warehouse workers somehow escaped with their lives. In this case, only 6.1% of people involved in the accident survived. And it’s especially hard to think this all happened after a flawless flight (up to touchdown).

Six / Seven days ago was the 15th anniversary of this bloody tragedy. And to mark that milestone, I performed a memorial flight, which ironically almost ended in disaster.

  • Route: SBPA - SBSP
  • Aircraft: LATAM A320
  • Time: 1 Hour and 10 Minutes
  • Departure Runway: 11
  • Landing Runway: 35L
  • Cruise Altitude: FL340

The first 90% of the flight was flawless, aside from weather in Sao Paulo and typical anxieties about the flight ahead.

The flight touched down at Congonhas somewhat late at night, a totally normal touchdown. (The setting is sunset here for a better view)

It’s at about this point of the landing that events start to go horribly wrong. The captain (the one in the captain’s seat, there were two captains in the cockpit) botches the reverser procedure, leaving the dysfunctional right engine fully revved up while the left engine reverses properly.

To the left of this picture is the crash site; the asymmetrical thrust resulting from the botched slowdown veers the aircraft hard to the left, leading the aircraft out of the airport proper (right where the taxiway leaves the picture on the left side). As soon as the aircraft leaves the airport proper, all of the markers are set for one of the bloodiest disasters of the 21st century to take place.

In memory of the 199 souls lost on July 17, 2007.